It Is All About Publishing Content
With the increase in thought leadership as a strategy to position a company as a trusted expert we are starting to see companies embrace a more public attitude toward publishing what they know. This distils to various content marketing tactics.
While whitepapers have long been a traditional vehicle for thought leadership, blogs have exploded as a much less formal, easily accessible and personal vehicle. Hosting events is also a particularly relevant option. This list is certainly not exhaustive but most tactics have their pros and cons.
Big companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have embraced blogging, allowing employees to publish to a sanctioned space, as a method of creating or maintaining corporate thought leadership. These companies do not necessarily expect senior management to be the content creators/authors.
The key with the above 3 example tools (blogs, whitepapers, events) is that they are not selling. Thought leadership is not about selling. It is about thinking and sharing those thoughts which in turn shape the market and build trust.
This is an important shift in business in that we need to be far less guarded in sharing of intellectual property or thinking in the P3 field. Jamie Oliver doesn’t keep all his secrets to himself because he is worried that someone will use them to open a restaurant across the street and put him out of business (hat tip Jason Fried). It goes a long way, however, to helping sell cook books and TV shows and as such becoming a thought leader by embracing the exchange of information that can help to propel the business.
Push vs Pull
Think of it in a marketing “push” vs “pull” approach. Push is all about interrupting and convincing the market to buy services. The pull (of clients to a business) is what thought leadership provides because they trust the company and see it as an authority. They are drawn to it.
The Results Of A Thought Leadership Strategy
The tools used to pursue a Thought Leadership strategy will provide and/or contribute to;
- A pre-educated market resulting in a shorter selling process,
- The ability to maintain trusted relationships through the provision of value in information,
- The ability to shape the market both on a macro and micro level,
- Brand Awareness, and
- Attainment of premier/trusted provider status
The True Test Of Thought Leadership
The true test of a thought leadership strategy, and resulting tactics, is to ask the following six questions.
Ask “Does our thought leadership efforts”:
- Add real value to our client’s work?
- Position us as a trusted advisor engendering trust in the company/brand as the leader in our field?
- Help underpin sales?
- Provide a content rich platform from which we can write, talk, publish online and share with clients our valuable insights?
- Position our company as the experts and ‘go to’ people in the field?
- Ensure our brand is not focused on product and sales and instead on market leadership and in the process deliver long-term, sustainable advantage over our competitors?
In conclusion I would like to acknowledge the following sources that contributed to my thinking.